SERI KEMBANGAN – Malaysia will consider co-operating with China to develop cruise tourism as a new tourism product, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.
She said China, which was now developing cruise tourism, was keen to co-operate with Malaysia, in this respect.
Hence, the minister believed this was a “silk road” for the country to develop the tourism industry.
“(As) Both Malaysia and China have the same opinion, we believe cruise tourism could become a new tourism product…we will consider this and find a common consensus for this matter,” she told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from China National Tourism Administration chairman Shao Qiwei here Tuesday.
Dr Ng said both countries had discussed some formula to attract more investors from China to invest in the tourism industry, especially in the hotel or resort industry.
She disclosed that China had invited her to lead a delegation to attend the Tourism Investment Fair held in April annually, in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.
“We will grasp the opportunity to let the investors from China realise the investment opportunities provided in our country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Shao said tourism industry was a huge industry and for the cruise tourism itself, it involved manufacturing and the services industry.
For example, the ‘Oasis of the Seas’, the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world which can carry over 6,000 passengers, needed 4,000 employees, he said. “In other words, it provides 4,000 working opportunities,” he added.
Hence, Shao said China was willing to co-operate with Malaysia and Middle East countries to develop cruise tourism.
He said, compared to the same period last year, the number of tourists from China to Malaysia had increased 28 per cent for the first six months of this year.
Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Ng said the abolishment of visa on arrival (VOA) would not affect tourists from China.
She said that only about 9,000 of the 23.65 million visitors to Malaysia last year applied for VOA, adding that the country received about one million tourist arrivals from China during the same period.
“While abolishing the VOA, we are now looking at a new system to widen our network throughout China,” she said, adding that the ministry was looking at the visa facilitation system (VFS), which was an alternative, to give the private sector a more important role to play.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had decided not to revive the issuance of VOA to foreign tourists at entry points into the country as the facility was being abused.
Dr Ng said, in view of the VFS, the ministry was identifying credible companies to assist the government to process the application.
“But it doesn’t mean they have the right to approve (the application), the approval right is still at the immigration, but (VFS) is to make the process faster,” added the minister.